Recommend
1 
 Thumb up
 Hide
2 Posts

Pitch-A-Story!» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Pitch-a-Story: Great Ideas, Toss the Board rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Laura Appelbaum
United States
Maryland
flag msg tools
Avatar
Last Saturday at the weekly game session at the Family Game Store in Historic Savage Mill, six of us decided to try out this game as the store owner had just received a gratis copy for play. According to what he'd been told, the creator of this game is a professional storyteller, not a game designer, and it shows.

There are four elements to this family party game: an hourglass; cards in different categories such as "character," "plot," "setting," "friends and foes," and "props;" a spinner; and a game board with individual markers.

Each player starts with two cards; a character and a setting card. The starting player spins the dial to see how many spaces her marker advances, moves her marker, and if the marker lands on one of the above mentioned card categories, she takes another one of those cards as well. Alternately, she may end up on a "stage," at which point she must "perform" by telling a story that includes all of the elements she has in her hand. She will keep spinning and picking up cards until landing on a stage. So depending on the random spin, you might have just two cards to work with; a character and a setting; or you might end up with seven different props, plot points, characters, etc that you have to try to meld together coherently. There is no way of knowing what you'll have to work with.

Back to our first player. She has landed on a stage. Each stage is valued a different number of points that she will be awarded regardless of how good or bad her story is. This is where the gameboard is totally broken, which I will discuss later. Now the hourglass is turned over, giving her a few minutes (we didn't actually time the timer) in which to come up with a story that includes all the characters, settings, plot points, props, etc. she has on her cards. When the time is up, she begins telling her story, which the other players will give an overall group rating of from 1-5 points, depending upon whether they subjectively felt it was a good story or not. There was a useful set of criteria listed on the back of the instruction sheet that we used; for example, did the story have an interesting "hook" to pull you in, did it use all the cards effectively, did it have a strong ending, were different voices or sound effects used, did it entertain you. The group listens to the story, then debates how many points to give. She will get those 1-5 points *plus* the random number of points the stage she has landed on posseses.

The cards with the story elements on them were great; they had funny characters and situations and odd props that resulted in ridiculous and clever tales that had us in stitches; in one, a snowboarder and his buddy end up in Newfoundland with nothing but their shirts and shorts and finally thwarted the plans of an evil mad scientist who has invented a powerful weapon that is fueled by killing puffins. In another story, "Manuel, the mysterious scientist" had to get out of a dark cave using nothing but a toothpick and a spray bottle (he used the toothpick to mine calcium carbide which he then put in his miner's carbide lamp and activated with water from the bottle). Another yarn had a "space juice bar" barrista dodging laser beams. These tales were a lot of fun, and have now created a pool of "inside jokes" for a group of former strangers to use with one another the next time they meet.

But when it comes to scoring, as mentioned earlier, the board is hopelessly broken. At one point my husband drew a complete blank and couldn't come up with a decent story at all. But he landed on a 50 point stage and so he got 51 points in the end; 1 for his lame tale, and 50 for his stage. Later, I told an uproarious story for which I was awarded a full 5 points, but having landed on a 10 point stage I never had a chance and lost the game.

Our group discussed various ways to fix the game, all of which would require the designer to go back to his drawing board. Having the spinner give you a random number of cards of a variety of categories was good; it kept you on your toes and made things interesting. But there is no scoring difference between someone who has to integrate a whole bunch of cards and thus has a bigger challenge and a player who only has to work in one character and one setting. The fact that one player might immediately land on a 50 point stage while another may land on a 10 point stage completely negates the points earned for actual storytelling. The board would need to be redesigned so that either everyone has to land on every stage in turn or that all the stages have the same (or no) points.

Still, I have to give this game a middling rating as I would definitely play it again when in the mood for a group activity that was silly fun with people who enjoy performing. I just wouldn't play it with the existing point system. Of course, when it comes right down to it, this isn't a game you play to *win* anyway, it's a party game. And on that level, it suceeded.

(This is my first attempt at a game review, so be gentle, or I'll send the Newfoundlanders after you!)laugh

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Henry Vogel
United States
Raleigh
North Carolina
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Excellent review! As a novice (and amatuer) storyteller and much more experienced game player, I was curious about this game when I stumbled across it on Storytelling web sites. It sounds like a good tool for sparking creativity but not such a good actual game. I may still pop the bucks for the game, as it could be useful for storytelling sessions with children, but I'd have to work out alternate scoring methods to get rid of the random points.

Have you ever played Once Upon a Time, the storytelling card game? If so, can you offer any comparison? If not, check it out for a creative game designed by actual game designers.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.